These dogs were reunified with their owners in Austin post-Hurricane Harvey and it’s the best

Sometimes, even a natural disaster can’t separate man’s best friend and his owner.

As Houston and the Texas coast continue to recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey, Austin-area animal shelters are also struggling to care for the hundreds of displaced animals they have taken in in recent weeks. But while this continues to be a time of uncertainty and transition for many pets, there have also been at least a couple happy endings.

Take, for example, Lion, who was living with his owner/dad Oliver Santos in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit. After water flooded the first floor of the house, Oliver and his family evacuated from a second-floor window via kayak. Because there was no space on the kayak, the family was forced to leave Lion and his two four-legged siblings behind on the second-floor balcony. Oliver feared he would never see Lion again.

Eventually, Lion was found and brought to safety in Austin, living first in a temporary shelter at the Travis County Exposition Center and ultimately transferred, along with 170 other dogs, to the Austin Humane Society. Thanks to his microchip, the Austin Humane Society, working in partnership with the Austin Animal Center, was able track down the Santos family. On Labor Day weekend, they drove to Austin to get Lion.

Lion with Oliver 2
Lion reunites with his owner, Oliver, at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

“As soon as Lion saw them, he jumped his front paws onto Oliver’s lap and got the biggest grin,” said Ericka Miller, director of communications for the Austin Humane Society. “Then, he rolled over for tummy rubs. It was very clear he knew his family!”

Happy Lion
A happy Lion after being reunited with his Houston-based family at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

The reunification was a bright spot during a tough time for the Santos family, who is currently staying with friends because the hurricane destroyed their home. They have not yet located their two other dogs but remain hopeful because they are microchipped, too.

Lion with Family
Lion reunites with his family at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

Sophie, another displaced Houston pup who was also transferred to the Austin Humane Society from the Travis County Exposition Center, also recently experienced a happy reunification. Although she was not microchipped, the Austin Animal Center had the address where she was rescued in Houston and reached out to her owners, the Salazar family. The family, which had just found their other dog in Houston, drove to Austin to pick up Sophie as soon as they heard the news. Once again, their family is complete.

sophie reunion
Sophie reunites with her family at the Austin Humane Society. credit: Austin Humane Society

In the coming weeks, local shelters will continue to try to track down owners using information from microchips and even new facial recognition technology, Miller said. Here’s hoping we’ll be hearing many more reunification stories in the coming weeks.


Share the love for Valentine’s Day: Austin shelters offer free pet adoptions this weekend

Looking to adopt a pet? This weekend is the time to do it, because all of Austin’s animal shelters are offering free adoptions all weekend long – that’s right, every single one of them.

The Austin Humane Society, Austin Pets Alive! and the Austin Animal Center are waiving fees on all adoptable pets from Feb. 10-12 as part of the Petco Foundation’s national “Discover Love” event, which is providing funding to cover the cost of the waived adoption fees.

All cats, dogs, kittens, puppies and even rabbits will be adoptable free of charge all weekend long. The shelters hope to have a total of 600 animals adopted by the end of the event, according to a release from the Austin Animal Center.

Photo: Austin Pets Alive!
Photo: Austin Pets Alive!

“At any given time, there are 2,000 pets of all ages, sizes and breeds waiting in Austin shelters for new families,” said Austin Animal Center Chief Animal Services Officer Tawny Hammond. “This is an exciting opportunity for our shelters to come together, with support from the Petco Foundation, to find homes for hundreds of homeless pets.”

You can see available animals online at the organizations’ websites: Austin Pets Alive!, the Austin Animal Center and the Austin Humane Society.

This Texas puppy is looking for its siblings on Facebook

Meet Frito.

Image via Corie Gemmiti and Texas Humane Heroes / Facebook
Image via Corie Gemmiti and Texas Humane Heroes / Facebook

As you can see from the photo, he’s just a cute little dog looking for his long-lost siblings, who were born in August 2015 and adopted from Texas Humane Heroes in Leander.

This is what they looked like as puppies. Let’s all say it together: Awwwww.

Photo via Texas Humane Heroes / Facebook
Domino, Snow, Raven, Cali, Buddy and Aspen, along with Frito. Photo via Texas Humane Heroes / Facebook

Frito’s owner, Corie Gemmiti, initially posted the photo on the Texas Humane Heroes Facebook page on Sunday, requesting a puppy play date at the shelter between Frito and his brothers and sisters when they’re all located. The owner of one of the puppies, Raven, posted within 10 minutes saying they adopted Frito’s sister the day after Frito was adopted.

On Thursday, Texas Humane Heroes said on Facebook that it has located four out of Frito’s six siblings and it’s planning on hosting a reunion on Feb. 18, hopefully with all seven puppies reunited. A local pet photographer will document the session, so mark your calendars for a really cute slideshow next month.

Rachael Ray is donating $10,000 to Austin Pets Alive! thanks to Brooklyn Decker

Rachael Ray is spreading the cheer this holiday season, and an Austin organization is one of the lucky recipients of her generosity.

For the second year in a row, Ray’s “Santa Paws” campaign is donating money from Rachael Ray Nutrish pet food proceeds to animal rescue organizations chosen by her famous animal-loving friends.

Stars like Miranda Lambert and Denise Richards chose their favorite animal organizations, and Austin’s own Brooklyn Decker chose Austin Pets Alive! to receive a $10,000 donation.

Looks like it’ll be a good Christmas for APA! this year.

RELATED: Austinites join to make Christmas miracle for abused pup named Tiny Tim

Reader photos: Austin pets ring in the holiday season

What can you do in an hour? Walk a dog with 1 Dog 1 Hour

Catelyn Silapachai and friend Melissa Massello DuBeau started 1 Dog 1 HourChelsea Laine Francis
Catelyn Silapachai and friend Melissa Massello DuBeau started 1 Dog 1 HourChelsea Laine Francis

1DOG1HOURhires-13Catelyn Silapachai, co-founder of Vintage jewelry and home decor site The Distillery, has started a new venture with friend Melissa Massello DuBeau. 1 Dog 1 Hour wants to help get more pets adopted from the Austin Animal Center.

Here’s how it works: Stop by the center, 7201 Levander Loop. Follow the signs with instructions on how to walk a dog. Any medium or large dog with a green dot on the kennel card can be walked. Once you walk your dog around the fenced-in shelter grounds or play with them in one of the fenced-in dog runs. You take a pick of your friend and post it to Instagram and tag 1 Dog 1 Hour’s Instagram @1Dog1Hour. Post some things you liked about the dog and log your walk on the board before you leave the shelter so other volunteers know who has been walked.

The hope is to expand the program to other shelters. Find out more at

Austin Animal Center to host ‘Pokémon Go’ party to get dogs adopted

Debbie Brownson lets her dog Roxy meet Chip from Pflugerville Pets Alive held by Cameron Brownson at Pet Pfest.  Photo by Nicole Barrios
Debbie Brownson lets her dog Roxy meet Chip from Pflugerville Pets Alive held by Cameron Brownson at Pet Pfest.
Photo by Nicole Barrios

From the City of Austin:

Austin Animal Center, 7201 Levander Loop wants you to play Pokémon Go to help get dogs adopted.

The city shelter will host the first ever, Pokémon Go themed Party called a ‘PokéParty’  from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday, July 16.

Austin Animal Center is a hot spot for players. There is a ‘PokéGym’ on site as well as four ‘PokéStops’.  AAC will be putting out ‘Lure Modules’ throughout the day on Saturday to increase the amount of Pokémon, and hopefully increase customers to the Austin Animal Center.

“Luckily, our campus is already attracting players, but we want folks to come in and get to know our dogs too,” said Deputy Chief Animal Services Officer Lee Ann Shenefiel.  “If you’re able to snap a photo of a dog with a Pokémon in the background and share it on social media, you could be the reason that a dog gets a new home.”

The game Pokémon Go allows players to see Pokémon in the background of their camera. The AAC wants visitors to snap photos of dogs for adoption with the Pokémon characters and share on social media with the hashtag #AustinAnimalCenter in hopes they will get dogs adopted.

Volunteers will be walking dogs around the grounds and near the ‘PokéStops’ all day so there will be many opportunities to catch Pokémon with dogs. Volunteers know the dogs they will be walking and are able to tell people more about them.

If a ‘Pokémon Go’ player takes a photo of a dog and wants to adopt it, the adoption fee could be waived. Pokémon themed prizes and waived adoption fees will be given throughout the day to anyone participating in the game.

“Simply show our Adoption Counselor your photo of a Pokémon and a dog and you could win a prize or a free adoption.” Shenefiel said.
The Austin Animal Center, 7201 Levander Loop is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. More information about Austin Animal Center can be found at; by calling 3-1-1; or by visiting the Center’s Facebook page at The City also maintains the Town Lake Animal Center, 1156 W. Cesar Chavez St., as an overflow animal adoption location. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Are you missing a pet pig? He might be in Round Rock

There’s some bacon that needs saving in Williamson County. KXAN reports that a mini potbelly pig was found in Round Rock on Wednesday, and police are looking for the owner.

In a post on its Facebook page, the Round Rock Police Department explained that animal control picked up the little porker at the Round Rock Dog Depot dog park at 8:30 a.m. The pig will stay at the animal shelter, and if no one claims him within three days, he will be put up for adoption.

Know who the pig belongs to? Contact the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter at 512-943-3322.

Screengrab via Round Rock Police Department on Facebook
Screengrab via Round Rock Police Department on Facebook

Last year, a pig also got loose in Rollingwood, resulting in an adorable low-speed pursuit. That errant swine was successfully returned home.

Austin Animal Center creates coloring book to mark 5 years of no-kill policy

From the City of Austin:

Austin Animal Center
Austin Animal Center

In celebration of Austin’s five years of being the largest No-Kill City in the country, the staff and volunteers of the Austin Animal Center created a first-of-its-kind coloring book for children and adults.

The book highlights a wide variety of all types of animals that enter the shelter daily and also educates the community on what it means to be a No-Kill city.

“This coloring book is not only a celebration of lifesaving, but a great tool for teaching kids about No-Kill animal shelters and why they’re important,”  Deputy Chief Animal Services Officer Kristen Auerbach said. “There are 22 of our one-of-a-kind animals featured in book and under each illustration is a story about that pet and how it got to the shelter.”

Some of the animals illustrated in the book include a paralyzed cat and his wheel chair, a baby owl, a three-legged dog and many more of the unique animals that are alive because of Austin’s No-Kill policies. One of the pictures even portrays Greenwood, a rooster rescued from a cock fighting ring and rehomed earlier this year.

The coloring books cost $12 and can be purchased at the Austin Animal Center or at In addition, two of Austin’s local stores are carrying the No-Kill Coloring book; BookPeople on Lamar Blvd. and Toy Joy on W. 2nd St. All of the proceeds go to the Austin Animal Center.

The book is perfect for kids and adults makes a great gift for just about anyone.

The artist/illustrator of the coloring book is Mellie Test who owns Magic with Mellie, a company specializing in visual branding.

About Austin Animal Center

Austin Animal Center is the largest No-Kill municipal animal shelter in the United States, providing shelter to more than 18,000 animals each year and animal protection services to all of Austin and Travis County. The Austin Animal Center is an open-intake facility where lost and surrendered animals from all of Travis County in need of shelter are accepted regardless of age, health, species or breed. The goal is to place all adoptable animals in forever homes through adoptions, foster care or rescue partner groups.
The Austin Animal Center, 7201 Levander Loop, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.  For more information go to, call 3-1-1, or visit for daily animal updates.

The City also maintains the Town Lake Animal Center, 1156 W. Cesar Chavez St., as an overflow animal adoption location.  It also is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This Austin Pets Alive adoptee loves walks the most

Photo via Instagram user tullstoy

Because of the internet, we thought we’d seen every incarnation of a cute dog getting adorably excited to go on a walk there was to see. But now there’s Poppy.

This Austin Pets Alive alumn is literally screaming at the top of her tiny Chihuahua lungs at even the idea of a walk. A video of her answer to the question, “Do you want to go for a walk?” was posted to Instagram earlier this year but just recently made its viral rounds.

Poppy doesn’t seem to get tired of being asked her favorite question either. The answer to which is always an affirmative bark-scream:

View this post on Instagram

I have a feeling that Poppy is onto us…

A post shared by Michael Tully (@tullstoy) on

We have to agree with her owner in that we too wish we had even “a flicker of this enthusiasm for pretty much anything.” Poppy isn’t this excited by everything in her little pup life, however. Another Instagram video shows that she too has her reservations.

Before you and your own Poppy go for a W-A-L-K this summer be sure to review these summer pet safety tips from the Humane Society to protect your furry friends from the heat.

Now. Do you want to….?

Austin Animal Center evacuates 55 dogs from Town Lake Shelter

Officials with the Austin Animal Center on Sunday evacuated 55 dogs from the Town Lake Animal Center which is frequently at risk for flooding during major rain events.

The dogs are being housed in crates in a large community room at the main AAC campus on Levander Loop. And the center is asking for the public’s help, specifically needing volunteers to foster dogs.  Center staff will process foster applications on the spot.

In addition, adoption fees will be reduced to just $20, through Friday, April 29.  The AAC is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

“We have so many dogs that need a safe place to stay for a few days. Currently, there are dozens of sweet, senior dogs who would benefit enormously from being in a home instead of a kennel. Fostering right now is truly lifesaving,” said Chief Animal Services Officer Tawny Hammond, in a media release.

Full information at:

For the latest news on Austin’s weather and flooding, stay tuned the American-Statesman weather blog and download the

Photo courtesy Austin Animal Center.
Photo courtesy Austin Animal Center.